If the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was played today instead of Saturday night, freshman quarterback Shane Morris would be the starter in place of injured redshirt junior Devin Gardner, Michigan coach Brady Hoke told reporters Monday.
And unless Gardner, who is suffering from turf toe, practices by Wednesday, the starter against Kansas State (7-5) will be Morris. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Russell Bellomy will also be available after being cleared to play in December after an anterior cruciate ligament tear sidelined him for the entire regular season.
Hoke spoke to media members in the Executive Terminal of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport shortly after the Wolverines landed. The Detroit News’s Angelique Chengelis reported that Gardner deplaned using crutches and wearing a walking boot on his left foot.
“It’s kind of day-to-day,” Hoke told reporters. “We’re going into it that Shane will be the guy.”
Morris has appeared in three games this season, completing five of nine passes for 65 yards and an interception.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said in his arrival press conference Monday that Michigan’s uncertainty at the quarterback position won’t change much in the way his team prepares for Saturday.
“Both of them prepare in virtually the same offense, which is extremely complex,” Snyder told reporters. “If you prepare for their offense, you’re virtually preparing for everything. They can do an awful lot of things. Regardless who their quarterback is, our preparation has been along the lines of their offense in its entirety.”
Along those same lines, Hoke said Morris starting would not throw off the offensive game plan too much.
“I don’t know how much it will change it,” Hoke said. “The throws don’t necessarily have to change. Obviously, we think he’s a pretty good quarterback. His ability both with his legs and arm is pretty good. I think they’d have to respect that.”
KICKING IT: Fifth-year senior kicker Brendan Gibbons has played his last game as a Wolverine. Hoke told reporters Monday that Gibbons isn’t on the trip and will not participate in the bowl game due to a “family matter” in his native Florida.
Gibbons also missed the regular-season finale against Ohio State due to an undisclosed injury, and junior Matt Wile will handle all of the kicking duties once again.
Gibbons wraps up his Michigan tenure having made 45 of 60 field-goal attempts — a 75-percent clip — which is good for sixth-best for a career in program history.
SLUMP BUSTER? Kansas State hasn’t won a bowl game in 11 years, a span during which the Wildcats have lost five postseason contests.
“We’ve played tremendously talented football teams, and sometimes just the depth segment of it catches up with you, but that should be an accurate assessment for most teams, not just ourselves,” Snyder told reporters. “The bottom line is I really don’t know.”
According to most betting sites, Kansas State is favored by at least a field goal to reverse its fortunes Saturday.